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Bellville Library Information Point: Referencing & Plagiarism

What is referencing and why is it necessary?

Referencing is a standardised method of acknowledging the sources of information you have consulted. Anything - words, figures, theories, ideas, facts - originating from another source and used in your assignment must be referenced (i.e. acknowledged).
Referencing is done for the following reasons:

Let's look at an example:

You are writing an assignment about "Compiling a CV" and you consulted a book of J P Rendell, called "Getting that job: a guide to writing your own CV". In this book you have found a quotation that you want to include in your assignment. You do that as follows:

"Writing a CV is similar to writing a sales letter - you are, in fact, selling yourself - your skills and aptitudes." (Rendell, 1986:36). The following is an example of the bibliographic entry when using the Harvard Referencing Style:


Rendell, J.P. 1986. Getting that job: a guide to writing your own CV. 2nd ed. London: Clive Bingley

Referencing Styles

Different organisations have developed different referencing styles. The style you have to use is prescribed by your academic department or faculty. A specific style is usually also prescribed by the publisher or the journal for which you are writing, if you intend publishing. Style manuals are published and updated by the originating organisations. They are available in printed format but also online on the Internet. Two examples of referencing styles are:

Style Name    Developed by
Harvard Style Harvard University
Vancouver Style International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and National Library of Medicine

The most-used style at Cape Peninsula University of Technology is the Harvard Referencing Style, but the medical field uses the Vancouver Referencing Style. Check with your lecturer which style you should use. Styles are never mixed - once you have decided on a style you follow that style only and you follow it to the letter. In other words you should follow it exactly.

In-text Referencing

In-text referencing should appear in the main body of the text to indicate the source of your information.

Whenever you mention facts written by someone else, or when you include someone else’s ideas. In-text reference may appear at the beginning of sentence or paragraph, or at the end of the sentence of paragraph.


Beginning of the paragraph/sentence:

Carr (2005: 328) listed factors that may influence dental casting as...  

End of paragraph/sentence:

Factors  that may influence the excellence of dental casting are….(Carr, 2005: 328).
Note the location of brackets in the above examples. At the beginning of the sentence/paragraphy, the surname of the authr is not bracketed. At end of the sentence/paragraph, the surname is bracketed together with the date and page numbers. Remember that referencing is standard. This also means correct punctuation.


What is Plagiarism?

" Most simply, plagiarism is intellectual theft. Any use of another author’s research, ideas, or language without proper attribution may be considered plagiarism."


It is unethical and illegal to submit someone else's work as your own - it is the same as stealing.

Plagiarism can take various forms. It can be blatant theft or accidental "borrowing". See the following examples:

  • You submit an assignment done by another student (or from a paper mill) as your own.
  • You pay another student to write an assignment for you and hand it in as your own work.
  • You copy and paste sections from someone else's work and add it to your work without acknowledging the source.

Although this sometimes happens accidentally, it is still considered plagiarism:

  • You have done a lot or reading and made notes for your assignment. At some point you find a good idea between your notes, but you can't remember whether it was your idea or someone else's. If you submit this as your own work and it turns out that it was not your idea, you have committed plagiarism.
  • If you make use of someone else's work, you must make sure that you have the correct citation information and add it to your assignment. (Citing and referencing will be discussed in more detail in step 5 of this course.)


Why is Plagiarism Wrong?

The Penn State University lists the following reasons why plagiarism is wrong:

1. The plagiarist denies him/herself an opportunity to acquire skills for future use.

2. If caught, the plagiarist casts his/her previous record of performance to doubt.

3. The plagiarist commits fraud on those who are evaluating his/her work.

4. The plagiarist deprives others of due credit

5. Plagiarism smacks of disrespect for your classmates in that they work hard for the marks they get.

Consequencies of Plagiarism

1. Plagiarism devalues the University in that your employers will blame the institution when you do not have the required skills in future.

2. If caught, you may face disciplinary action.

3. You may fail an assignment, course or even your academic programme.

4. Students may lose their bursaries

5. Repeat offenders may be dismissed and blacklisted by the University and other institutions.